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Tony’s Plane Features Some of Latest Gadgets

The navigational equipment packed into the cockpit of the Cessna Centurion 210 that Tony Aliengena is flying around the world represents some of the latest in U.S. technology. With its help, 11-year-old Tony should be able to circle the globe with little trouble.

There is the standard Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range (VOR) system, which helps direct the plane to its course using ground radio transmitters. The VOR system, together with the plane’s gryrodirectional compass and the backup magnetic compass mounted over the control panel, makes possible a determination of where the plane is and where it is heading even when visibility is poor.

The plane is also equipped with what is known as a LORAN system, which can help in determining the latitude, longitude, distance and flight time to the next point. From virtually anywhere in the world, a pilot can tap into LORAN to find out latitude and longitude and to receive precise instructions about the direction to take by specifying the coordinates of the destination.

Should the gyro-directional compass, backup compass, VOR and LORAN systems fail, air traffic controllers can be called on to help keep the plane on course. A Soviet navigator is accompanying Tony and his father during the long crossing over Siberia in case they encounter controllers who do not speak English. The Soviet is also providing them with a familiar eye for the terrain.

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All of these navigational systems will function outside the United States, albeit with varying degrees of efficiency, U.S. pilots say.

“But you still start off, before you ever leave, with filing a flight plan and knowing exactly where you’re going,” notes Gregory Wilcox, a charter pilot who has logged more than 7,000 hours in the air. “As long as you follow international procedures and work with the local officials, you’re going to get where you’re going.”

Tony’s father, Gary Aliengena, has been handling this time-consuming but important part of flying while his son takes over the more glamorous but less demanding task of actually holding onto the controls.


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